"With all the things happening in the world today, to focus on fruit cakes seems a bit silly - but I love it!"
So says the Bega Valley's baker extraordinaire Nelleke Gorton, who over the weekend learnt she had won the Sydney Royal Easter Show state final rich fruit cake competition.
"I feel extremely humbled to have won this - this is the pinnacle. I'm very proud and excited!"
It's been a long journey for Ms Gorton and her fruit cake.
First she had to win the category at the Bega Show, before then also winning at zone level.
She said the Agricultural Societies of NSW divides the state up into 14 zones, with Bega part of the Far South Coast and Tablelands zone.
However, given the Far South Coast National Show and subsequent zone final at Cooma didn't give enough lead time for submitting to Sydney Royal, her champion cake is based on last year's local crowns.
"It's a long journey," Ms Gorton said on Monday, while eyeing off a freshly baked finger lime Key Lime pie in her Tanja kitchen.
However, it bears noting Ms Gorton won the fruit cake ribbon at this year's Bega Show as well.
What makes for a champion fruit cake? It's a fair question given the category required all entrants to follow the same recipe.
Ms Gorton is humble enough to say she doesn't know everything, but she knows it takes a lot of work. She also had a good idea of what judges would look for given she is a judge herself.
"I've learnt from having made quite a few!"
The even distribution of fruit throughout is key, as you want the cake to cut cleanly.
"You don't want great lumps of sultanas," she said.
To achieve this, each individual piece of fruit, gets cut first!
"I was literally sitting with a tray and a kilo of fruit on my lap, cutting them all in half. Even the little currants. The cherries need to be cut into six.
"The way you line the tin is also very important. I use a double tin, newspaper lining the outside one, then a double-lined inner tin.
"You can pack the cake in, to get a symmetrical cake with sharp corners.
"Although while you can see it has neat corners and is baked evenly, you never really know until it's cut open - you may have missed a sultana!"
Ms Gorton paid tribute to two of her great baking influences - the late Ray Keft and Norma Allen, both of whom saw considerable success with their own fruit cakes during their lives.
"Ray was a great fruit cake baker - I really felt his presence there [at Sydney Royal] - and Norma also taught me a lot.
"I guess it's me carrying on in their name now."
Ms Gorton last month won the Champion Exhibit at the Land Cookery and Handicraft, also for her rich fruit cake using the same recipe as that of the Agricultural Societies Council. She will shortly be taking that winning recipe to the state CWA titles in Albury.